Methylene Blue Administration Enhances Memory Retrieval

HealthDay News — Methylene blue may increase activity in brain regions involved in short-term memory and attention, according to a study published online June 28 in Radiology.

The study group included 26 healthy men and women, ages 22 to 62. Each underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and 1 hour after receiving either a single low-dose methylene blue pill or a placebo.

Overall, the researchers found, individuals given the drug showed an increase in brain activity during their mental tasks. That included changes in brain areas related to emotional responses, memory, and the ability to process visual and sensory information. On average, participants had a 7% increase in correct responses related to memory retrieval.

“The next step is to see if this works in patients with memory problems,” senior researcher Timothy Duong, PhD, a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, told HealthDay. “We have a similar study underway that includes people with mild cognitive impairment.”

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Rodriguez P, Zhou W, Barrett DW, et al. Multimodal randomized functional MR imaging of the effects of methylene blue in the human brain. Radiology. 2016. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2016152893.